We know there was much more to Jim Harbaugh’s complaints about the amenities at Purdue’s Ross-Ade Stadium than the air conditioning.
According to Wilton Speight’s father, Bobby, the handling of Speight after he suffered a back injury at Purdue was a “train wreck.” Bobby Speight made the comments to the Detroit News, who talked to Bobby and his wife and Wilton’s mother, Martha, about what transpired following their son’s injury.
The family said they were let in to the visitors locker room after Wilton had been helped off the field. As research was done to determine what Wilton’s back injury was (three fractured vertebra), he had to be taken to a nearby hospital for X-rays because the stadium didn’t have the capabilities.
Instead, Wilton sat in the front seat of a van provided by Purdue and driven by a student. The Speights, two medical trainers, a doctor and Thai Trinh, an orthopedic sports medicine fellow at Michigan, piled into a van to be transported to the student health clinic, about two blocks from the stadium.
“We take off with no escort,” Bobby Speight said. “We can’t get through because there are barricades up and (the van driver is) directing people to move them.”
The Speights then said that when they arrived at the Purdue University Student Health Center, a worker there said Wilton Speight needed to provide an insurance card for the X-rays. Since he was playing in a football game, he didn’t have his insurance card. (He didn’t need it anyway, as athletes are covered at visiting facilities.)
There was then an issue with the resolution with the X-rays, the Speights said, and Wilton had to be transported to a nearby hospital. That didn’t go smoothly either, as it took much longer than it should have. Read the piece above for those details.
Purdue said it stood by its original statement made after Harbaugh’s comments in response to the Speights’ tale. Here’s what that statement said.
“Purdue regards the welfare of all student-athletes as its No. 1 priority. We would fully support a conversation regarding a conference-wide set of guidelines for visiting football team accommodations because we have experienced less-than-ideal conditions on the road. There is no place for gamesmanship when it comes to player care and safety.
“The after-the-fact concerns expressed by Michigan are somewhat surprising because a member of its football staff conducted a walk-thru of our facilities with our athletics department staff at Ross-Ade Stadium on July 18.
“Furthermore, to help teams prepare in advance, our visiting team manual highlights in bold type “there is no air conditioning in the (visiting) locker room,” with accompanying Purdue Athletics staff contact information about how to request preferred temporary accommodations. We did not receive any such request.
“Basic X-ray is available within our athletic footprint and more-sophisticated capabilities are located two blocks away, similar to the arrangements at many other schools. Our sports medicine staff members, in fact, have received numerous compliments from their Michigan counterparts regarding the care they received at Purdue.”
A report earlier in October said Speight could be out for the season because of his back injury. The News reported Friday morning that he could return by the end of the season. Quarterback John O’Korn has started in his place.
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